K-12 schools seek $950 million funding; Virginia board of education hard at work

Virginia K-12 schools are in dire need of funding. nearly one billion is being sought to help revitalize the education K-12 system again having been hit by large funding cuts in the last 10 years.

The Virginia Board of Education is seeking funds to revitalize the K-12 education system, which has been lagging in the last decade. They are also trying to remove capping that placed during the recession-era that detected the number of support positions schools could employ.

They have also indicated that the additional $950 million spendings on state’s public schools will be used to reduce class sizes and hire more reading specialists. The governing body of K-12 education is expected to review these proposals on Thursday 7th October.

Daniel Gecker, the president of the board in an interview with Richmond Times Dispatch (RTD), indicated his optimism of the budget getting passed. He argued that if this funding is approved, it will lead the state of Virginia a more equitable path for all kids enrolled in the K-12 system.

Problems facing K-12 schools

Even if the board approves the funding, it must also be approved by the General Assembly, which will have the final say over how much the schools will get. Getting the extra funding of $950 million will mean an increase of 18 percent in education funding from the budget of the 2017/2018 financial year.

The education system in Virginia was one of the most affected by the 2009 recession. This meant state funding cuts and staff cutting on education. A decade later, the underfunding remains even though the economy has rebounded back. If these changes are ignored, the state will be about nine percent down in funding per student from where it was in the 2008/2009 financial year.

The schools in Virginia will also receive $450 million less in funding this year if no changes are made than the 2008/2009 financial year. This less funding is a result of the effect of recession where schools’ social workers, psychologists, and custodians were let go during this period. They have never been replaced or reintegrated into the system, meaning the K-12 schools have been operating understaffed.

There is also the issue of infrastructural funding for these schools. Around 60 percent of schools in Virginia are 40 years and above. They have failing infrastructures, which, if not addressed, poses a danger to students.

The cost of infrastructure upgrading for schools above 30 years was estimated to be $18 billion. Although steps are being made, the progress is moving at a snail’s pace.

Lack of bipartisanship has derailed efforts for K-12 schools?

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, for example, proposed $18 million in funding for the construction of new K-12 schools. However, the Republican-led General Assembly only allocated half of that amount.

This highlights the problem facing the education system in this state: lack of bipartisanship has derailed any efforts to address the current issues facing the education system.

Virginia Education Association President Jim Livingston summarizes during an interview with RTD by saying,

Virginia has balanced its budget on the backs of our children and that’s just wrong. Our children should be at the forefront of our state budget. It’s time to give them the resources they deserve.

This is a problem that needs to be solved and with the change of guard in both the State Senate and House of Delegates in the just concluded elections, there is hope. The democrat will now be in control of all the budgetary matters of the state and will run all branches of government in the state.